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Video: Fixing toxic online behavior in League of Legends
April 26, 2013 | By GDC Vault Staff

April 26, 2013 | By GDC Vault Staff
More: Console/PC, Social/Online, Programming, Design, Production, Video

Courtesy of the GDC Vault, this free GDC 2013 lecture features Riot Games' Jeffery Lin exploring how to correct toxic online behavior, and how to avoid losing League of Legends players to this bad behavior. Riot gathered a team of specialists and researchers to analyze the problem and implement several experiments designed to improve players' experiences.

Session Name: The Science Behind Shaping Player Behavior in Online Games

Speaker(s): Jeffrey Lin

Company Name(s): Riot Games

Track / Format: Design

Overview: The player behavior team at Riot uses science to understand toxic player behavior. During this session, Jeffrey "Dr. Lyte" Lin discusses what Riot's statisticians, scientists, and developers are doing with the latest research in behavioral, social, and cognitive psychology to solve one of the biggest problems in online gaming today. From the player-driven Tribunal to the Honor Initiative, Jeff Lin talks about how science can reform toxic players, and reinforce positive player behavior.

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent GDC events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers. Those who purchased All Access passes to events like GDC, GDC Europe, and GDC China already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscriptions via a GDC Vault inquiry form.

Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company. More information on this option is available via an online demonstration, and interested parties can find out more here. In addition, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault admins.

Be sure to keep an eye on GDC Vault for even more new content, as GDC organizers will also archive videos, audio, and slides from other events like GDC China and GDC 2013. To stay abreast of all the latest updates to GDC Vault, be sure to check out the news feed on the official GDC website, or subscribe to updates via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS.

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Daniel Erickson
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Fantastic work. Thanks for posting it.

Glenn Storm
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A very impressive talk. Thanks, Jeffery.

Gonzalo Daniel
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Absolutely amazing. Really enjoyed this talk, thanks for this post.

Lewis Giles
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Priming has applications far beyond this. I am glad to see designers experimenting with it, I think it could be a powerful tool towards more emotionally effective game design. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

Bruno Xavier
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If they ban all toxic players they have, they go bankrupt in 1 year or so.
All of this is just Riot trying to address the bad PR they have as so called the worst online gaming community ever.
Their community is that bad because that is the way they wanted to build it up. Now, probably is too late to reverse this situation. At least more than 30 ppl I know no more plays this game because of such bad community.

Matt Agnello
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We actually looked into a similar strategy very early in our player behavior efforts: what would happen if we banned all the toxic people in the game, those guys that are the worst of the worst? 100% of them, gone. It turns out that we wouldn't even scratch the surface of solving poor player behavior, because most toxic games occur because of the isolated outbursts Jeff talks about in the beginning of the talk. If 1 in 10 people is having a bad day today, every game seems toxic. That's why we've chosen to expand beyond the Tribunal, which is great at handling the consistently toxic players but not the random outbursts.

What we've found through much of this research is that the majority of League of Legends players are incredibly awesome people. It's the viral nature of toxic behavior -- the context for action -- that makes them act in toxic ways. We're changing the context, and it's had a huge positive impact on the LoL community, and we hope to continue that trend.

Jason Carter
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Maybe you feel that way, but I feel the opposite. Occaisionally I have a crap day at work and have a tough time tolerating people being douches but lately I've made myself be a little more patient in an attempt to sway people to be a little more civil (it often works).

I also definitely notice a difference in the community now compared to 3-4 months ago. Those terrible games where you get trolled/people rage without reason only happen occaisionally and for the most part teams seem to work together a lot better.

But this is my personal experience with LoL, I'm sure it's different for everyone. I have at least noticed a difference.

Lothario Peon de Schuyter
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Good talk for Riot. I think that this not only affects the in game behavior but also the personal behavior in the day by day life.
Excellent job, my respects.

Liam Wilson
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Ugghhh, the claims of Jeffrey Lin of Riot games are absolutelu

Liam Wilson
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Ughhhhh, the claims in this video are absolutely hog wash and future game designers should take this approach with a grain of salt. At the beginning stages of the tribunal initiative, Jeffrey Lin had the bright idea of giving rewards to voters in the tribunal, if the voters came to a general consensus they would be rewarded with points within the game that allowed them to unlock characters in the game. However, what ended up happening was every voter spammed the punish button in order to be in collusion with other voters in order to receive rewards. So even if one was innocent of toxic behavior, they were still screwed because the community always voted to punish in order to get rewards. After a year of banning innocent people from the game Lin finally figured out that it probably was a bad idea to reward collusion. His next indevour was to set up a ladder system for voting, the ladder works like this. The more accurate the vote the higher you are on the ladder, simple right? Not really. This ladder system still favors collusion. There have been multiple experiments done on the League of Legends forums where users auto vote to punish in the tribunal. The sad part is the people that auto vote punish usually had a higher ladder ranking than the voters who actually took the time to go through the cases. In the end the "experiments" Lin is trying to portray as scientific in this video are nothing more than a scientific fantasy.

Kevin Bender
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If you end up in tribunal, it's more than likely you should be punished... You only go up to tribunal if there have been a certain number of reports against you in a short period of time. One of my favorite pass times (i need more to do really) Is to look at all the "OMG how the f*** did i get banned" threads in the forums... they post their case. and within 30 seconds of reading their chat logs it's clear there ban is deserved. The vocal minority tries to claim the system is broken, when in reality it's just that this minority has no concept of what it means to be polite and sportsmanlike.

Karin E Skoog
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Great presentation. As a player, I'm a fan of Riot's reporting system because it gives the player a sense of empowerment, particularly as there are a vast number of categories from which the player can select, even providing commentary on the behavior. I appreciated the reporting system from the start...It demonstrates that Riot cares about the players, as I assumed it also meant that the company was doing what it could to eliminate negative player behavior. After learning more about the Tribunal system and, from this presentation, the different ways in which Riot tries to diminish toxic player behavior, it makes me more optimistic about continuing reformation of player behavior.

I just hope the majority of players fully utilize the reporting system! I'd imagine there is also a beneficial impact on gameplay XP via the rewards players receive for positive behavior (Influence Points). It'd be interesting to see the stats on that and also the variations by country and gender.

There probably isn't a way to check back on a player you've reported, but for an overly negative game (one that sticks out in your mind weeks, months later), it would be nice to know what happened as a result. For the most part, my gameplay XP has been mostly positive, however the extreme racism that was once sustained throughout the entire course of a match is something I will not forget...It entirely inhibited communication, since serving as a Sp-Eng translator or communicating in Spanish with the other teammate would have further instigated the constant verbal attack of the other...

But, great job on Riot's part for developing the Tribunal system and continuing to work on the tough issues online gaming presents. It's a huge problem to tackle, but the improvements they've made are great for the entire community. Hopefully players will take what they learn from LoL as unacceptable online behavior and apply it to other online games.

Off subject - Online games are interesting from the standpoint of immersion because, no matter what gender you are, you are automatically transformed into a male player. The strangest one for me is when I'm called "bro." : ) Immersion kind of goes out the window at that point lol.